Michael Jon Bennett, a 15-year-old organist, pianist and composer who was featured on the Thumbs Up page last year just before moving from Chapel Hill to New York to participate in Juilliard’s pre-college program, recently has won two prestigious music awards.
He was chosen as the first-place winner in the Intermediate Category and Judges’ Distinction Winner in the 2014 American Protégé International Piano & Strings Competition. Michael, along with the other winners, will perform a recital on Easter Sunday at Carnegie Hall.
He also won the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award from the NPR classical music program “From the Top.”
As part of the award, he was invited to perform on the show. In front of an audience in January, he recorded “Praeludium in G minor, BuxWV 163” by Dietrich Buxtehude on the William J. Gillespie Concert Organ in Costa Mesa, Calif., and the show aired nationwide earlier this month. (Listen online at tinyurl.com/kxahrx2.)
The Jack Kent Cooke Award, given to outstanding musicians from 8 to 18 years old, comes with up to $10,000 in financial support for instrument purchases and tuition and travel expenses for music programs. Winners are invited to participate in From the Top’s Arts Leadership Orientation, where they are encouraged to give back to their communities by performing and enacting service projects.
Michael currently studies organ performance, organ improvisation, piano performance, and musical composition with several teachers and is in Juilliard’s pre-college program for composition and piano performance.